IAEA inspectors have carried out an inspection of a warehouse mentioned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech to the UN General Assembly last September, finding traces of uranium which Iran has yet to account for, two diplomats who follow the agency’s work have told Reuters, Trend reports citing Sputnik.
Iranian officials and IAEA representatives have yet to comment on the story.
According to the anonymous diplomats, the IAEA has formally asked Iran to explain the uranium traces, but Iranian officials have yet to do so. One of the diplomats clarified that the uranium traces were not of a weapons-grade quality, and not purified to ‘anywhere close’ to the levels required for a nuclear bomb.
“There are lots of possible explanations,” one of the diplomats said.
It remains unclear whether the alleged uranium traces predate the 2015 nuclear treaty, or are more recent.
In this file handout photo taken on April 09, 2019 by the Iranian presidential office, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (2nd L) listens to the head of Iran's nuclear technology organisation Ali Akbar Salehi (R) during the "nuclear technology day" in Tehran.
Earlier this summer, Israeli media reported, citing ‘top Israeli sources’, that the IAEA had discovered the traces of radioactive materials at the Iran facility in June, but had held back on making its findings public. Media noted at the time that “the storing of radioactive material in a secret facility without informing the IAEA is a breach of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to which Iran is a signatory.”
Tel Aviv, which is not a signatory to that treaty, has previously received flak from Iranian officials for its alleged double standards, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pointing out late last year that Israel was the only country in the Middle East with an actual “secret and undeclared nuclear weapons program – including an actual atomic arsenal.”
Officially, Israel neither denies or confirms possessing nuclear weapons.
The IAEA has previously indicated that it had “no credible” evidence whatsoever that Iran has worked on a nuclear weapon after 2009, and said it had considered the issue “closed” since 2015, when Iran, the US, Russia, China and several European countries signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.